Vandals anger hall residents

Kylie Gapko, Staff Writer

When you think of home, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

You likely think of the place you can’t wait to go to after a long day of classes, a place where you feel safe and secure, and an area like no other. For many college students, the resident halls are their homes for eight months. They hope to feel safe and comfortable in the spaces they live in.

But for some UW Oshkosh students, this isn’t the case. Take Stewart Hall, for example.

Kylie Gapko / Advance-Titan
Leakage from students plugging toilets in Stewart Hall has been a big concern. This is leading to closed bathrooms and water problems.

The hall has been plagued with vandalism during the 2021-22 school  year such as sinks being clogged with food, toilets being plugged with excessive amounts of toilet paper and septic leaks in the basement. These issues that are seemingly normal in day-to-day life become a nightmare for students living in those conditions as they have to deal with bathroom closures caused by vandalism.

Interim Director of Resident Life Lori Develice Collins said this is the first time she can recall students intentionally clogging toilets in the 20 years she’s worked at UWO. Several residence halls and academic buildings have been plagued with intentional toilet clogging.

“In instances where bathrooms have been closed, it has been for repairs and cleaning,” Develice Collins said.

In an email to students from Police Chief Kurt Leibold, he wrote, “While this may seem like a joke to those involved, we want to be clear that this is not a joke and you may face disciplinary action that could threaten your student status if you are involved in these incidents.”

Develice Collins said those responsible for this type of vandalism will go through the student conduct process. That means their status as a student will be in jeopardy, they will be responsible for repairs and cleaning costs and potentially face criminal charges.

She encouraged students to get involved. “If you see something, say something. If a person witnesses a toilet being clogged or finds a clogged toilet, contact University Police.”

Some believe the recent vandalism cases are spurred by a TikTok trend.

In videos that have swept TikTok this school year, students have filmed themselves doing everything from dumping soap dispensers to ripping partitions off walls and clogging toilets. Some videos show how the latest “devious licks” challenge is destroying and closing school bathrooms.

This is not only happening at UWO, but also at middle schools, high schools and other universities in Florida, Colorado, Oklahoma, California, Tennessee and other states.

According to the Clery Crime Log, there has been property damage at Stewart, South Scott and Evans Hall this semester. The Advance-Titan has submitted an open records request about the incidents.

To say students have been annoyed is an understatement.

Freshman Olivia Madrigrano said, “I live in Stewart hall, or as most people on campus call it, stinky stew.”

Morgan Greil, also a freshman student living in Stewart, said the vandalism has been inconvenient. “At one point we only had one stall open in the bathroom for an entire hall of girls,” she said.

To those guilty of the vandalism, she asks them to think about how much harder they’re making the custodians’ jobs.

Greil said she was surprised to learn that this was a TikTok trend. “I had no idea, and I am on Tik Tok all the time.”

Freshman Dreya Detry, also from Stewart, is upset that people are destroying things residents need.

“Can we stop these actions before actions are taken to all, like shutting down floor bathrooms or [giving] fines?” she said.

Liv Clark took the situation into her own hands when she decided to clean the hall sink during the fall 2021 semester. “That food was in there for over a week,” said the freshman from Stewart Hall. “People in the building don’t care about cleaning up after themselves, and it pisses me off.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include that students were putting food in the sinks and not cleaning them in the fall 2021 semester.